Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Thomas’s Piggery aims to make pork part of the menu in local kitchens

Thomas Bika is one of the beneficiaries of the Young Farmers Fund, which is run by the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency.

Almost two years after the CEDA branch in Molepolole gave him P500┬á000, he is the proud owner of Thomas’s Piggery, which is located in Gakutlo, a hamlet situated along the Gaborone-Molepolole highway.

He considers himself lucky in that the processing of his application and the actual disbursement of the funds took only one month.

“For you to be funded with the Young Farmer’s Fund money, there must be a viable market for your project, the project should have sound financials, land, even if leased, must be arable and you must have access to water,” Bika says.

To get the project started, CEDA bought him breeding stock, feed, building materials for the chicken run, borehole equipment as well as one year’s worth of staff salaries and transport needs.

The loan is payable over 10 years in quarterly tranches.

When the project started, the main problem that Bika encountered was finding good breeds. He consulted the piggery section of the Ministry of Agriculture, which gave him a list of all piggery farmers in Botswana in order that he could shop around. Ultimately he bought enough pigs to get the project started.

Thomas’s Piggery sells mostly to individuals and on occasion to Senn Foods, which buys as many as 15 to 20 carcasses. Bika says that he prefers selling to individuals because prices offered by butcheries and supermarkets are low and result in farmers running their piggeries at a loss.

The meat is sold whole, sliced or portioned. Bika takes the pigs to a Gaborone North slaughterhouse, then to butchery for the slicing and portioning before he sells to customers.

“It depends on how the customer wants the meat. I want to have a relationship with different individuals and build a good working relationship,” he says.

 To market his product initially, Bika made flyers that he later handed out to butcheries and individuals in the street.

“It was difficult to penetrate the market as most people were loyal to their usual suppliers and it was very hard to convince them that my product was better,” he says, adding that there is a good market for pork.

What Bika counts as the uniqueness of his business, which employs three people, is that the pigs are free range and that he supplies directly to consumers. Future expansion plans include a meat processing facility for sausages and biltong.

A 25-year old who holds Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and who originates from Zwanshambe in the north, Bika has┬áalways wanted to be his own┬áboss, he could have started the business before he went to school and he felt that he is not mature enough to start business and decided to go to school first.
His dreams have come true and he recommends it to all young Batswana because there is a need for more pork in Botswana.

His project came almost at the same time the Local Enterprises Authority (LEA) released a study that showed that the demand for pork is growing in the country.

The study on pig products in Botswana by LEA has revealed that the annual national demand for pork products was 2, 417. 945 metric tonnes valued at P41.385 million. ??However, there is a shortfall because the annual supply was estimated at 1, 758.919 metric tones at a value of P11.139 million.

“However, before the local producers can begin to target international markets, they still have vast opportunity domestically as there exists an annual shortfall of about 630.864 metric tones of pork products to satisfy the unfulfilled demand of the local traders,” LEA said at the launch of the study.

The study discovered that pork ribs (accounting to 36 percent of the demand) are in high demand compared with other products, with hoteliers leading the pack.

Most of the pork ribs were sourced from imports and the study summary concluded that the piggery sub-sector can help in diversifying the agricultural sector and the general economy.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper